Day 66 to 75 of Mitch's Trans Am
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Day Off in Berea, KY
Breaks Interstate Park, VA
On Day 66, from the elevation graph, the trajectory of the route continues to go up and down from morning to night and repeat the next day. The radio says it's the hottest day of the year so far. I'm doing fine in heat (Philippines training) but nothing worse than massive sun climbing a hill.
Multiple dog chasings. It's a bit traumatic. Sometimes the dog starts his run, gaining speed, in stealth mode. You cannot hear them until they get near then WHAMO they catch you off guard. One dog was hard for me to consider spraying cause he shifted from left to right behind me like a fighter jet "dog" fight. Thank God no dogs when i am going uphill. That will be too hard to win.
I took noon a nap on a baptist church step, and behind a barn, but the mosquitoes were bugging me so I cancelled and continued.
I sat in a gas station store after 1:00PM for their air conditioner and ate canned pears. The owner was from India. Why are so many gas stations, corner stores, and cheap motels owned by Indian/Hindu types?
No sun burn. I keep all my body completely covered.
I met two gospel brothers who drove 1-2 hours to meet me for fellowship and exchange gifts/photo ops. That was great.
Again, back to this morning, from at beginning of day, I think I saw, experienced, and videoed the "best scenes of Kentucky" thus far. The sun rising, morning dew, fog, colors, settings, was all picture perfect. Can't wait to make my "Kentucky compilation videos" in the future.
KY is harder than Missouri. The MO hills are longer stretched, but the KY hills are shorter but all day continuous. At the bottom, there is always a going up again, repeat. At one point, I wanted to shout at the hill to stop it! Stop going up! As if it had a personality. Another time, I wanted to blame the "map makers" for making a route that is so unrelenting up and down until we arrived at the famous house of Abraham Lincoln's uncle. Than I realized, "You made me me go through seven sets of hills, just to swing me around to a famous house to see?" Mind games.
The cars are great. They are patiently following and waiting for a perfect passing time. I believe they are "used to" the over 2,000 riders that make this route annually. One guy from golf course shouted that we bikers are crazy. Maybe he is right. What sane person will use bicycle to cross America and choose the hilliest, winding route in 93F degree weather????
I see so many wonderful homes. Massive plantation type houses with front yards like athletic fields with NO ONE outside! No people to be seen! Where are they? Two places: A. At work somewhere and B. In their houses with air conditioners on! Haha Smart!!
I almost never drink COKE here. I love Root Beer and Dr Pepper.
Approaching Loretto, KY today, I saw many, massive, black buildings??? Black??? They looked like condominiums but there was no people or parking. Fenced in but not prison. I thought, "What is this???" I stopped a car making a turn to ask him, "What are these black buildings everywhere here?" His answer: Whiskey warehouses!
Warehouses with thousands of barrels of whiskey alcohol getting aged before shipping. It seems that the entire city had industry of alcohol distilleries!!! I started cursing every building in the name of Jesus. No matter how many jobs would be lost that this distillery business would go bankrupt. Amen! I asked a lady at the store, "What do the churches of this city think/feel about this huge alcohol whiskey production company?" She replied, " They've been here forever. Not much we can do about it."
Day 68. Yesterday, Day 67, was an "off day" in Harrodsburg. The city started in 1774. America started in 1776. Anyhow, lots of back roads. For sure it was not the shortest route from Point A to Point B but scenic, and not a lot of traffic.
I had three long breaks today. I found a bicycle rest area on side of road sponsored by Kentucky Texas Longhorn cattle farmers. Snacks, cold drinks, bathroom and shower. No one was there. Complete trust system.
I met a guy that helped a biker 18 yrs ago who had broken wheel. All drive by drivers were polite. Some, too polite. Some are actually afraid to pass. I saw many horses today. Had one down hill that was too fast and small corner. Scary.
I bought chocolate milk but I think the lid was not perfectly sealed. They gave me different one. Chocolate milk is nice recovery drink. The sugar in it pushes the protein faster to its destination. I loved chocolate milk after my 10K, 21K runs in Manila. I drink it straight with some other drink. Works good. I believe I can finish Kentucky in three more biking days. The days are a little shorter because so many hills.
Kentucky has SO MANY churches. Often three or four all on same street. I see many old, first, or second generation homes and barn buildings. Maybe not 1780 type homes but 1830-1860 type homes. Love it! Maybe 150+ year old homes/barns. I know they are not being destroyed because they hold much sentimental value and history to the current generation. Grandpa's or Great-grandpa's house. Huge yards and big property owners. I curse the tobacco fields when I see them. They could easily grow beans or corn but they are sinners. Money is more important than righteousness.
I followed a river most of the day. Water always dirt brown. No rivers can compare to the rivers of Oregon and Idaho in May and June.
I see so many dead raccoons on the highway. Many seem like they were freshly hit within hours of sun rise. I have not seen a live one yet. Saw a closeup of a ground hog (marmot) yesterday. Got video of it. Saw chipmonk today and some deer in the forest.
I asked man and women for directions. The women talked normal but the mountain accent of the man was so extremely southern I could not understand him! Total, hillbilly, redneck accent. Amazing diversity of language accents in America. Lots of women with tattoos. Lots.
I think I am getting closer to the historical "clan wars" of the past history ie. Hatfield's and McCoys. Very soon, I will be tackling the Appalachian mountains. At beginning of trip, last April, I received a $2,000 gift to cover 1/3 daily food assistance. That has been a great help but I've spent *nearly 3X that amount on motels, overnight fees, other meals, camping fees, supplies, parts & repairs, postage. I will need to raise that amount in the months to come. I still have 20 days remaining.
Once I hit Philippine soil, it's back to my normal schedule of teaching, traveling, and a School of Evangelism that starts Sept. 22. Amen! Did I tell you I am camping on the grass behind a Fire Station in Berea, KY tonight? I can use their bathroom and shower but I won't use the shower this time
Day 69: I camped behind the fire station in Berea, KY and needed to reach Buckhorn, KY. This distance is 67 miles. Today was "dog" day. Maybe less than 10 dogs. Three of them I felt very threatened by them so I sprayed them with bear repellent while shouting ad racing. They stopped immediately and retreated. The second time, I got a little on my finger too. I still feel it now after multiple washings and many hours later. I'm tempted to not use it anymore because of the danger to ME if there is any wind or spill.
Anyhow, the hills continue. I truly have entered the Appalachian mountain range now. I hope to finish Kentucky in two more days. I passed so many 100 yr old+ houses and buildings today. I love it! The history of old pioneering days is everywhere. The church I am sleeping in tonight is from 1907. It is fully wood, log church with original pipe organ. The pastor gave me historical tour. They have shower for bikers now. I am sleeping in the classroom, while drying my tent and clothes I just washed in shower.
I took many breaks today to cool down. I even laid under tree in the shade of a Baptist Church. There are dozens of baptist churches on this route. Oh, I want to give Kentucky the first place award, for, sorry, but most overweight people on my trip so far. Especially those that work in the gas stations and grocery store businesses I always stop. I mean, such huge people, they can hardly function, stand, or move. Extreme obese. I have been to nine states on this trip and that is my observation.
I want to give all drivers credit in Kentucky for being so polite in their following and passing me. Southern tip of Illinois was the worst for impolite drivers. One of my favorite moments of the day is the cold drink breaks I take. I love it so much. I notice many stores and Dollar General do not have big garbage cans outside. I don't understand why. Their cans are in the store and sometimes not at all!
Today I had some "longer, stretched out,"uphills since Missouri and Western Kentucky. The long hills remind me of Oregon. I must of chit-chatted with over a dozen people today. One baptist elder spraying for weeds let me use the churches faucet to fill my bottles. I even saturated my shirt so it would be cooler on the highway. Life in Kentucky in 1900's must of been so difficult. I think I will give "The Most Beautiful Yards" and lawns award to Kentucky. Missouri gets 2nd place.
Also, most yard sales, and rummage sales are here in Kentucky. I passed a home if a "hoarder)" today. Her house was so full if stuff and junk and things she has collected. You cannot even get into or out if her home. I interviewed the neighbor concerning the sight I saw. It's like an addiction, compulsive behavior. demonic. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff. Nothing gets thrown away. I think I will give "most junk in yard" award to Kentucky also. Both extremes. See "HOARDING" video attached...
Many yards and properties are flawless. Perfect. Every paint stroke. Every blade of grass cut. Nothing out of place. Extreme perfect landscaping and tree trimming, paint, yard etc. Too perfect. And than across the street is extreme disaster mess.
A young guy told me the reason their dogs chase bikers is that all their lives (their nature, he said) they chase things like raccoons, possums, deer, skunk, any type of wildlife. They just chase, chase, chase. Never trained. One dog that was chasing me, I shouted at the lady, "Control your dog! Call him off!" She replied, "Oh, don't worry. He won't bite you." It was true. He did not try to bite. He just wanted his sports for the day, but for me, its not a sport but a trauma. It is not fun. I had a couple down hills that were too fast. They were short but too extreme. That is not good either. It's great going down, but not scary fast down. I don't like.
Day 70: Today was a 50 mile day only. I am staying in a Baptist biker hostel in Hindman, KY tonight. They have washer/dryer, shower and bathroom. I will have whole church to myself. Tomorrow, I will target Elkhorn on the border of KY and Virginia! Virginia is my last state! I had some dog chases again today. Maybe four of them. I hope Virginia is different with no dogs?
Again, I was amazed by the extremes of beautiful, perfectly landscaped homes and properties compared to terrible poverty, garbage, and mess. My route followed a river most of the day with a cliff on one side and river bed on the opposite side, generally. I took a 1 hour nap in a baseball playing area today after lunch near Hazard, KY.
I passed a church today, one of dozens and dozens, named, "Nuff Said. Regular Baptist Church." Funny.
I had a nice salad for lunch for $5 at a gas station. It's my first salad in over 70 days, I'm sure. The onions were awesome. I made a nice, short video today, I hope to upload tonight if internet works ok.
The church I am staying in is free or donation based. There are many gas stations and intersection businesses that are closed. I'm not convinced it is from bad location, but from poor management, bankruptcy, and ownership. There are others that are clean, organized, and nice which seem to attract the customers. Some places appear to have had multiple ownership over the years. High turnaround and re-openings.
My bike and gear weighs 112 lbs right now. I can't help to think what it would be to make this type of trip on 30 lbs or less, like the racers do. Certainly it must make a big difference.
I met a guy today who was biking cross country, too, but his wife is driving their camping vehicle. He has nothing on his bike! He said he was on original Bicentennial ride in 1976 with 4,000 others when this trail was started. His name is Steve Shambeck.
Wyoming still gets first place for most wildlife. Not as many dead animals as back a few weeks ago. Many loud trucks with broken mufflers here. A guy on motorcycle went by the church playing AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" song. I immediately thought two things: prodigal son and black sheep. The perfect timing of him passing me with a nice, white church, to my right side, at the same time. For sure there must be a lot of that here in the "woods." Many churches scattered along highway but lots of rebellion and "hillbillyishness." That's a new word by the way. Haha
Lots of American flags and Confederate flag too. I saw most beautiful cemetery today entering Hindman, KY. Perfect angle on the hill, arrangement, colors, etc.
I see many long beards on men around here. They like their churches 100% white. Everything is white. No trim color. All white. It's okay.
Day 71: today was a big 74 mile day with five sets of hills to cross at 1,300 feet elevations with the last 3 miles completely going up. They built the Interstate Park/campsite on elevation. Really tough at end of the day to go up some more. Arrived after 9:00PM. I finished Kentucky! Now in Virginia, my last state. 536 miles remaining.
Place called Breaks on the border is awesome. The leaders from the Mitchell, OR biker church are driving the route visiting bikers. Seen them for few minutes. Started massive raining. No problem with rain now cause it's warm rain.
It's the cold rain that is difficult. Lots of little landslides on edge of highway, mountain roads. The spring thawing and rushing waters removed soil and the highway will sink. Same thing in Philippines. Engineering nightmare. Drank so much yesterday. Killed a whole quart of milk before bed. Could of killed half gallon if I had it.
Campsite is nice but not designed for bikers. So far and spread out everything. I like campsite right beside highway not two more miles of hills to get to your spot. Had a nice grilled cheese for lunch and vanilla shake. Oatmeal for breakfast today. I had less than six dog chases yesterday. None violent. If Virginia has no dog problems, I will destroy my bear spray can. Won't need it anymore.
I threw my heavy rain shoe covers away yesterday. I bought them in Baker City, Oregon when I was freezing so much. They have been faithful but the rains are no longer cold. I have biker booties anyhow. I'll be fine. Lighter 26 oz now.
My brakes are getting big time workout lately. The downhills are fast, curves, narrow, and could be dangerous. My original brake pads for over 5,000 miles. Still ok. Can't believe it.
I'm sorry, but Kentucky will get 1st place for most uncollected litter and trash pickup problems. The roadside is too much but Kentucky will get 1st place for difficult uphills and beautiful lawns, yards, landscaping. 1st place for most messy yards, too, and 1st place for most churches. Churches, churches, churches.
I stopped at church last night at 7:00PM for housing but they no longer house bikers. We had nice fellowship for five minutes and I continued on 6 miles to campsite. I past a called "Hellier." They even have church called "Hellier Church." Haha My next six days (300 miles) is terrible mountains. It looks pretty hard from the looks of map. The last 250 (Afton to Yorktown) look pretty low and reasonable. I think I can finish by July 25. We'll see.
Videos from Day 71 attached:
Day 72: today was not long but hard. I think I broke all my records for # of breaks I took! I remember one hill. I must of taken four breaks before I got to the top. I think because I had such a long, tough day yesterday, I could not get recovered in time for today.
Today, although I stopped to take photos of sunflowers for first time in this trip, it seemed like a day of endurance. Some switchbacks gave me memories of the Philippines-style switchbacks.
Literally, I was able to count my pedal strokes one by one. I could actually feel the deep muscle tissue of my legs being pulled. I remember stopping at a red light and the sweat dripping off my wrist unto the pavement like a pool.
It can be hard to enjoy certain sights when you have to focus so much on the climbing task. Anyhow, maybe five more intense days and I will be done with this hard 1/2 of Virginia. Hopefully no more dogs too.
Again, the accents of the English used here is so hard to understand. One gas station let me use their "employees only" bathroom. This was so nice.
Next page: I see lots of poverty. I feel rich on my "missionary budget" compared to what I witness. I'm thankful and fortunate. Many people are on "food stamps." Broken down, rusted cars. At one point I was really ,"people watching" those coming into gas station. Some look like meth addicts. One guy had no shirt, no belt, no haircut, no shave, and little bit drunk at 10AM. I saw a guy with t-shirt that really stuck in mind. It said, "Kentucky against 'em all!'" This has a deep meaning, really.
There is A LOT I love about this State (Kentucky), although I am in Virginia now. I'm near the border so it's not too different, but I do see some differences in house designs. I wish I could spend more time in this "interior area" if KY/VA area. I think there is much to be learned here. I don't think some of these small kids have ever seen a big city before.
I watched a family today. Their dad was cutting wood. They looked like they were still in 1925 era. They looked at me like I was an alien. It's like we were from two different worlds. I think of the politics going on in Washington DC in comparison to "life in the back roads of KY/VA." Every politician should have to visit where I am visiting.
Another store today being totally renovated by new owners from Pakistan. The good news is they kept all the old employees. I ate two chicken legs here. I'm seeing more bees lately. That's good. I hate the way little flys try to zip around your sunglasses lenses though.
Today, I was thinking how far I have come and how as long as I am going "east" it is a good thing. Even if the hill climb is the direction of east, it is helpful in the big picture.
Today, I think I got a new understanding of the "Kentucky dogs" reputation. I hope to write, or speak on it someday. It seems if you think about something long enough, and seek wisdom, it will come to you. The Holy Spirit helps with this processing also.
I'm staying in a 1788 Methodist Bike Hostel tonight. They started in 1976 when the pastor first heard that 4,000 riders would be coming past this town for the first time. Thus, this place has thousands of "Thank you" cards since 1976. They even have the Original Welcome sign outside under the tree still after 43 years.
Tomorrow, I will target Damascus, VA. It is a major major crossroads of multiple Appalachian hiking trail heads and our Teams Am biker trail. There are only a few locals but thousands of transients. We'll see...
Day 73: I had a very short, 33 mile day today, just enough to get over one mountain and stay in famous hostel crossroads city of Damascus, VA. I got fairly wet from rain. Thousands of hikers passed through this Appalachian mountain trail intersection each year.
I stayed in 120 yr old hostel/building owned by the Methodists for $8 a night. I'm planning a big day tomorrow crossing the 3,500 foot pass. This will be my 2nd to last highest point for the remainder of my trip. I noticed I am only about one or two miles from border of Tennessee if I wanted to visit, but I won't. I have 462 miles remaining 7-8 days, if no day off. July 25th might be my finish line date??
I think reaching the end will be sad/happy day. It will be hard to say goodbye to this experience, I think.
Day 74: I packed my bike in 3 mins 40 seconds this morning. Testing myself. Departed Damascus, VA by 0730.
All hills today were reasonable. Hit 3,500 feet today. I had breakfast after 20 miles up the road. The store owner was also cashier, cook, maintenance, and had a realtor sideline. He told me of past racers trying to sleep on his floor cause they were so extremely tired. I met a lady and daughter that were curious and took photos of me while I videoed them!
I saw some deer today, another marmot, and long needle pine trees. It's the first time I've seen pine trees/cones on this trip. I stumbled upon two biker guys on the highway just finishing fixing a flat tire. It was Ken and Bob from Montana! I have not seen them since we got split up in Montana. I knew they were gaining on me, cause, I follow their blogs, but they must of past me during one of my gas station breaks. We started the trip nearly the same time but they have "just a little bit" longer days than me.
The rain started pouring on all three of us the minute he finished his tire. Massive rain. The rain has been missing me all day until now. After 3 miles in the rain, we decided to pull over in laundromat. We'll stay here in this city called Wytheville, VA. I just finished my laundry....going out the door.
Note: I learned later that the last 100 miles leading up to Wytheville, VA has the MOST ELEVATION GAINS on the entire Trans America tour! Although the highest point was in Colorado (11,000+ feet), the GAINS and ADDITION of the up and down and up and down and up and down of these last 100 miles is MORE! I believe it! I feel it!
Day 75: above average 60 mile day today filled completely with hills. Very predictable. When you start climbing, you know it won't be forever and you always come down and go up again. Same 'ole sawtooth style but had three or four hard intersections which took me a lot of problem solving/making sure, between paper maps, map apps, and asking people. Confusing road transfers sometimes. There was a big DETOUR also because of a bridge being replaced.
Although I went 60 miles today, the distance by Interstate Freeway is probably 30 miles only. The Trans Am is really a "biker friendly scenic route" NOT the shortest route. Cars were all polite except some yuppy "Yale type" in a convertible shouting, "Speed it up!"
I started late today, nearly 10:00AM. Listened to Rush Limbaugh's radio program 3 hours, M-F. I learn more in 15 minutes than most students in secular college in four years! I'm very Thankful.
I saw deer today, a chipmunk, marmot, and NO dogs that were loose. Words to describe Virginia: clean, professional looking linear, orderly, nicely laid out highways, presidential, historical. Buildings preserved from 1788.
Highway shoulders are few but the white line is straight and crisp, fresh. Many wealthy homes, subdivisions, So many churches, white churches, like Kentucky. I just LOVE these old, 1780's, 1800's, and 1900's churches. 250 years of history. Awesome!
America is still a young country. Lots of flags, red/white/blue, patriotism. Lots of crosses on highway and intersections where people died from accidents. So many stories from the highway. I finished my Map #11 today at Christiansburg, VA. Tomorrow, I start my last Map #12 with only 367 miles remaining to finish line. Wow!
I'm a little low on cash this last week also. Even if I could raise about $500 more for this last 6 days, I wouldn't be so crunched. For sure, I will have some shipping expenses (one 45 day box to Philippines), and other misc purchases (bike shipping is $150 on plane) in my last days in Norfolk before flying out on Aug 2. Please consider any gift in the next week or so. I hate being in debt when I get back to Philippines. Thank you.
Late entry follow-up note: After returning to the Philippines, I received a large gift that was enough to pay all my remaining bills from my bicycle trip! The gift enabled me to be nearly 95% debt free. The remaining 5% I expect to be paid in only a few weeks. Praise the Lord!
Day 76 to 81: My final six days...